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Are businesses embracing Social Media?

November 9th, 2009 Comments

In 2009 we saw exponential growth of social media. Americans have nearly tripled the amount of time they spend at social networking and blog sites such as Facebook and MySpace from a year ago, according to Nielsen.  In August 2009, 17 percent of all time spent on the Internet was at social networking sites. European are not that different. According to a report “Europeans Have Adopted Social Computing Differently” by Forrester Research, 60% of European online consumers are taking part in Social Computing activities such as reading or writing blogs, listening to podcasts, setting up RSS feeds, reading and writing online customer reviews, or taking part in social networking sites.

But is this enough for businesses to embrace social media?

team

Survey results from a recent Deloitte study (2009 Tribalization of Business Study), point to some key challenges that businesses are facing as they move toward integrating online communities into their social media strategy. The three areas they have identified as obstacles are:

Keeping visitors engaged:  30%
Getting people to join:  24%
Encouraging return visits to the online community:  21%

In addition, they agreed that the following are key business outcomes for their online communities:

Increase word-of-mouth:  38%
Increase customer loyalty:  34%
Increase brand awareness:  30%

Liana Evans is her last post starts by saying rightly:

If your online marketing agency has advised you to have a blog, a Facebook fan page, or a Twitter account so that you can get more content just to attain additional search engine rankings, you might want to stop and ask why.

What You Deem Valuable Could be Worthless to Your Audience

You may think that PDF spec sheet of the 10 best of features for your product or service is the best marketing slick ever. You’ve spent hours designing the marketing look and feel around it, you want to make sure that it’s on your Web site and it’s put into every sales packet. You believe this is the most valuable piece of content there is to sell your product.

Listening to your audience talk about what the best features are of your product in social media communities should give you insight into how to provide them with valuable content. It can also help you improve your marketing efforts to reach and engage more people. Utilizing this kind of knowledge can help your marketing efforts in social media reach new engagement levels.

Unfortunately, you aren’t thinking from the end user’s perspective.

A list of specs of features doesn’t do the end user a bit of good if they can’t even figure out how to use your products or services. Many times, companies mistakenly believe that adding more bells and whistles to their products is what customers find valuable. Customers use the product the way it gives them value. Most of the time, the bells and whistles don’t give the value.

How we share ideas and connect with one another has dramatically changed. Previously media was limited to one-size-fits-all broadcast messaging sent out from the center. Businesses had to follow the same model in their communication with both employees and consumers. Social technologies – from forum to Facebook and Twitter to text messaging, means now things can improve.

Now everyone can and does join the conversation.

This explosion of these new communication methods bring people together in  an instant around any interest or passion – no matter how niche. In order to capitalise on these opportunities businesses must prepare to recalibrate with new  thinking and processes. The prize is greater efficiency and innovation.

“The enterprise is waking up to the fact that it needs to listen and that it needs business intelligence” for the communities, said Ed Moran, director of product innovation for consultancy at and one of the study authors.

This is what we offer at 90:10 Group.

Businesses have long had to close a gap between themselves and their consumers with a number of activities that are  inefficient and wasteful. These processes are dependent on  a series of expensive mediators: media owners, advertising agencies, marketing, PR and research companies.

90% of the energy to move from concept to sale is input by the business and its mediators. The consumer gets to join in for the last 10% – the purchase decision.

With the advent of social technologies you can now enjoy direct and real-time relationships with the consumer throughout the whole supply process.

The 10:90 ratio is flipped on its head.

process 9010

Now the willing consumer can join in with ideas, provide feedback through out their development and help market them the end product to their peers. This can deliver a never-ending feedback loop of improvement , innovation and  efficiency.

Many examples show that consumers are increasingly demanding participation. They expect the ability to co-create and lead innovation, and their volubility has forced companies to devise creative solutions to be competitive in a new bottom-up age. Procter & Gamble, Starbucks, Dell, Best Buy and Nike have all created digital platforms that allow customers to help them create new products and messages. Starbucks received over 17,000 coffee ideas in the first 14 months since the launch of its proprietary online forum, mystarbucksidea.com.

Forrester recognizes that the past five years of social media evolution have focused on growth and adoption. It predicts the era of social commerce.

Forrester 5 Overlapping Social Eras

Brian Solis thinks that

The Social Web is distributing influence beyond the customer landscape, allocating authority amongst stakeholders, prospects, advocates, decision makers, and peers. SRM recognizes that whether someone recommended a product, purchased a product, or simply recognized it publicly, in the end, each makes an impact on behavior at varying levels.

Therefore customers are now merely part of a larger equation that also balances vendors, experts, partners, and other authorities. In the realm of SRM, influence is distributed and it is recognizes wherever and however it takes shape.

John Winsor in his article Business Week said:

There’s a delicate balance between encouraging participation and maintaining clarity of overall business objectives. As with any good conversation, a give-and-take dialogue is necessary, and every company will develop its own way of handling that debate. Most excitingly, new forms of social editing will emerge that allow customers, experts, and brand advocates to curate crowd-created ideas to sort through the ideas and stay on strategy. For now, the most important thing is to jump in and try.